Long time reader, first time posting...I look forward to collaborating on this site. Responses, feedback, and thoughts are more than welcome!
I recently taught a beginner blues workshop and was asked where to begin if wanting to build a blues dance DJ’ing collection. I don’t see myself as the ultimate authority on any this, but I hope to provide some insight. If not, it will allow me to “geek out” a little on a topic I like discussing at lengths.
Some of the easiest way to find blues music is to create a Pandora station and find music that you like to download. There are some great compilations of blues music as including the Chess Box Set that I’d recommend. I find blues music interesting because not all blues music is what I would call “danceable” so I will list a variety of artists with a warning to be aware what could be considered “danceable” or not. There is plenty of blues music that I would enjoy listening to, but not dance to.
Below is a working categorial list of some artists within blues music. This is not an authoritative list, but more of how I think of things. I could narrow it down categories as some of the artists’ placements are debatable. Some categories can be split up as well. If anything, I feel this may be a good introductory starting list of artists to check out.
Here is a working list among some categories I separate artists into:
Classic Women of the Blues:
Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Mahalia Jackson (Gospel roots), Ethel Waters, Etta James, Dinah Washington, Billie Holliday, Big Maybelle, Big Mama Thornton, Lil’ Johnson, Lucille Bogan, Memphis Minnie, Ruth Brown, Victoria Spivey, Lucille Hegamin, Koko Taylor, Roosevelt Sykes, Georgia White, Bea Booze, Ida Cox
Other Female Favorites:
Alberta Hunter, Odetta, Lavern Baker, Nina Simone, Shemekia Copeland, Hadda Brooks
Chicago Blues/Electric Blues
Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Memphis Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bo’ Diddley John Lee Hooker, Slim Harpo, Otis Rush, T-Bone Walker, Amos Milbourne, Magic, Slim, B.B. King, Johnny Winter Jimmy Reed, Bobby Blue Band, Bo Diddle, Buddy Guy, Eurreal Montgomery, Junior Wells, Albert King, Freddie King, Lowell Fulsom, Z.Z. Hill
Delta Blues/Country Blues
Robert Johnson, Son House, Big Joe Williams, Skip James, Big Bill Broonzy, Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, Sonny Terry, Snooks Eaglin, Bo Carter, Willie Johnson
Contemporary Blues Favorites:
Keb’ Mo,' Bonnie Lee, Janiva Magness, Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Rait, Johnny Lang, Taj Mahal, Albert Collins, Eric Clapton (some of his is Pop music), Blind Boys of Alabama, Carey Bell, Carolyn Wonderland, Elvin Bishop, Eric Bibb, Johnny Lang
Jazz artists to check out
Sindey Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton Edmond Hall, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Hot Lips Page, Pee Wee Russell, Ray Charles (wasn’t sure where to categorize him) Ernestine Anderson, Jimmy Rushing, Jimmy Witherspoon, Kid Ory, Earl Hines, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Cootie Williams, Humphrey Lyttleton, Dr. Michael White, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton. A lot of other classic jazz artists have some great tunes.
What are your thoughts? Would you categorize something differently or separate categories more? Other favorites I missed?